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A Lady [Mrs Andrew Neilson] | An Englishwoman in Russia ,


London: John Murray, 1855 


First edition. 350pp. Seven B&W engraved illustrations (six plates and title vignette.) Modern green half calf over green cloth; ruled and lettered in gilt to spine; green and white silk header; blind embossed stamp to top corner of title page; neat inscription to verso of frontispiece which has bled through and is visible on recto; a couple of small spots to pages else a very clean and tight copy. Scarce.

Written anonymously by “A Lady,” though thought to be authored by Mrs. Andrew Neilson, wife of a British businessman, this account of life in Russia distinguishes itself from the average travelogue by touching on realities of daily life from the perspective of someone with a decade’s worth of experience in the country. Of the typical tourist’s view of Russia, the author decries how superficial their experience actually is: “Their ordinary plan is, to take the steamer to St. Petersburg, and after a stay of a short time take a “run” to Moscow, whence they return in time for the “boat,” and hasten back at the rate of ten or twelve knots an hour, carrying away with them the most erroneous and false ideas of the real state of things, the mere surface of which they have scarcely had time to skim.” Portions of the text deal with specific events that the author attended, with detailed descriptions of the people, their attitudes and environment. Other parts treat general aspects of life in both urban and rural areas, including education, religion, and class divides. Of particular interest is the description of foreign visitors from the Russian point of view.

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